Lewis Hamilton made it a clean sweep of practice sessions at Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit, with the Mercedes driver claiming top sport in FP3 with 0.264s in hand over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. Charles Leclerc finished third in the second Ferrari.
Of the expected frontrunners, Vettel was the first to bolt on a set of red walled C4 tyres with around a quarter of the session left to run. At the point the German sat in P3 0.379s off Hamilton who set the quickest time of the opening phase with a lap of 1:23.360.
However, with this weekend’s soft tyres on board, however, Vettel leapfrogged Mercedes Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton to claim top spot by eight tenths of a seconds.
The Ferrari driver’s team-mate Charles Leclerc took P2 with a time of 1:22.749 but he was closely followed on track by Hamilton who jumped ahead of both to take P1 with a lap of time 1:22.292.
Behind them it was a good session for Haas, with Romain Grosjean taking fourth place a little over three tenths of a seconds behind Leclerc. Grosjean, the last man within a second of Hamilton, was followed by team-mate Kevin Magnussen who finished 1.042 off the P1 pace.
Pierre Gasly was sevent for Red Bull Racing, outpacing more established team-mate Max Verstappen by just over a tenth of a second. Verstappen should have been higher up the order by a scruffy quali sim that saw him run wide midway through sector two left him ninth.
The Red Bulls were separated by Bottas, whose performance run was also compromised, this time by a slide wide at the end of the lap, and Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat who showed good pace to take eighth place with a lap of 1:23.442. That was nine tenths of a second clear of team-mate Alex Albon who finished 15th.
The top 10 was rounded out by Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo whose lap of 1:23.695 was 1.403 off Hamilton’s pace but a tenth ahead of team-mate Nico Hulkenberg.
There was a minor incident during the session when Williams’ Robert Kubica misjudged the pit lane entry and clipped the wall on the left side, dislodging some bodywork.
2019 Formula One Australian Grand Prix – Free Practice 3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 12 1:22.292
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 12 1:22.556 0.264
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 12 1:22.749 0.457
4 Romain Grosjean Haas 17 1:23.112 0.820
5 Kevin Magnussen Haas 15 1:23.334 1.042
6 Pierre Gasly Red Bull 17 1:23.367 1.075
7 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 17 1:23.422 1.130
8 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 16 1:23.442 1.150
9 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull 19 1:23.481 1.189
10 Australia Daniel Ricciardo Renault 14 1:23.695 1.403
11 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 15 1:23.737 1.445
12 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 16 1:23.831 1.539
13 Carlos Sainz McLaren 21 1:24.049 1.757
14 Sergio Perez Racing Point 18 1:24.082 1.790
15 Alex Albon Toro Rosso 15 1:24.328 2.036
16 Lance Stroll Racing Point 16 1:24.345 2.053
17 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 18 1:24.402 2.110
18 Lando Norris McLaren 16 1:24.568 2.276
19 George Russell Williams 14 1:25.944 3.652
20 Robert Kubica Williams 16 1:26.589 4.297